I used to be an anti-preschool homeschooling mom. That is, until my little Creed came along. He’s super busy and super smart, and seriously needs his day to be structured. That said, my philosophy of homeschooling preschool has NOT changed, and I wanted a curriculum that reflected that.
What is my philosophy for homeschooling preschool?
- Organic and natural
- A lot of open-ended play
- A lot of time outside
- A lot freedom to explore
- Very little seatwork
In my quest to find THAT kind of curriculum, I kept turning up empty-handed. Everything I ran across was super intense, more seatwork than I was willing to force my child to do, and WAY too much work for me as the teacher. And then one night as I was Googling once again trying to find something that would work for him, I ran across A Year of Playing Skillfully,(referred to as AYOPS from here out) and it was like a breath of fresh air! (You can get a free unit to check out before buying, so don’t forget to do that!)
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When it came to me, it was all shrink-wrapped. I unwrapped it and reveled in its beautiful photography and thick pages as I put it into the notebook. It truly is possible for curriculum to be beautiful, and to fall in love with that beauty!
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This curriculum starts in September, so currently, I am planning out what I want to do and gathering supplies I don’t already have. The beauty of this curriculum is that it is IDEAS and NOT a schedule. You get a thick card stock checklist that you can put on your refrigerator that has all of the activities for the month. You don’t have to do all of the activities (and I won’t be), but all of them have purpose and an element of play. (If you have more preschoolers coming up behind your current one, I suggest laminating the card so you can use a wet erase marker on it.)
Earlier in the summer I snagged a copy of The Peaceful Preschool by Jennifer Pepito, and that has been our go-to curriculum this summer. You can also get the first unit of this curriculum free to check out for yourself!
This curriculum is so easy to implement and is very much in line with my philosophy on homeschooling. It is set up to be more of an August or September through May curriculum, but I wanted to jump in early to keep Creed busy. He has LOVED it! Again, I don’t do all of the activities, but the ones I do use every day items we already have and simple ideas that keep things fun.
I also just ran across this free preschool curriculum that runs all year long. I’m still looking through it, but it looks very promising as something I want to add in as well.
As a fun extra, we have added in ABCmouse. We do not allow the boys to buy things for their online rooms except during their Saturday computer time, so they save up tickets all week and don’t waste time playing in their rooms. You can get a free 30 day trial HERE!
OK, now I feel like this isn’t enough information to really give you a good grasp of what we are doing. I will be writing more as the year progresses, but I don’t want to leave you with all of these curriculum options and no real understanding of how I’m putting it all together.
First of all, I already know that preschool will not just be for my preschool-aged child. I am pretty sure I will have no less than 4 children participating because it “looks like fun.” In fact, I’ve already born witness to this over the summer. These children are ages 2, 4, 6, and 8. (We are in the even years right now.) And while I will be focusing on Creed (the 4 year old), I don’t see any reason to not let the other 3 join in – as long as they aren’t doing all of the talking or bothering Creed’s personal projects.
So, with that in mind, I decided to consider all 4 of the children into this is portion of school. I started by doing an activity suggested in The Homegrown Preschooler (by the authors of AYOPS) that I’ve affectionately called Understanding Your Child. I even created my own worksheet to help me see my children’s attributes and keep them on hand throughout the school year to refer back to. It was a good exercise, and if you’d like to do the same thing (even if you aren’t using AYOPS!), you can click HERE to get your own copy!
I also have to share that my health has been MUCH better than it has been in years, and I am more able to plan and think clearly about adding in little extra homeschool touches. So, I decided to use this free theme planner from Sicily’s Heart & Home to help me put together monthly themes for my younger crew. (She also has Play Calendars you can snag for free if you needing some ideas.)
I also love me some pen and paper! I have a notebook that says Wild and Free on the cover, which pretty much sums it up! (If you aren’t familiar with the Wild+Free homeschooling site and podcast, I’d encourage you to check it out! My friend Deborah totally got me hooked!)
The gist of my planning is this…
- Choose activities.
- Write them down on a schedule without putting too much in one day.
- Don’t bother with putting down days or dates on the schedule – do the activities when you can.
- Add in themes and activities from other sites, Pinterest, and family traditions.
- Pick and choose from the daily activities you have created based on what kind of day you are having.
- Feel good that you spent time playing skillfully with your preschooler!
I can’t get all fancy with my planning. I need it to be fluid, flexible, and EASY! I write down books I would like to have on hand and grab them once or twice a month from the library. I write down a supplies list to order or grab at the store. I keep things simple and fun for everyone involved, and best of all, we are making such wonderful memories!
I promise you will see more of our preschool throughout the year (especially on Instagram)!
I’m also using the Busy Bags I mentioned last week to supplement our homeschool on the fly. If you can get some of these together, even on your worst homeschooling day, you can be a hero because you gave your little ones something fun and educational to do!
These cheap, easy to assemble busy bags have been a lifesaver for my rambunctious preschooler and toddler! A friend of mine helped me assemble them. (This would be a really fun project to do with a bunch of moms!) I bring a couple to church, I pulled them out when things are getting crazy here at the house, I even take them along in the van! Swipe for more photos, and click the link in the profile to see more ways I occupy my busy little ones! #busybagideas #kidsactivities #playandlearn #preschool #kidsactivity #preschoolactivities #learningthroughplay #earlylearning #toddleractivities #playideas #learnthroughplay #playmatters #playideas #handsonlearning #screenfree #raisingarrows
I know this seems like a lot of hodgepodge, but I like having a lot of options. If you don’t want a ton of options or add-ins, choose one of the curricula I mentioned above (don’t forget to snag some free samples to try before you buy!), and go with it!
As a mom of many, I’ve come to realize flexibility and simplicity is what I need, so when a project feels to chaotic or crowded, requires too much prep work by me, or looks super time-consuming, chances are, I’m going to move on. I also know that I am not a creative person when it comes to ideas about occupying little ones. I borrow from others and I’m not ashamed to admit that other people have WAY better ideas than I do! By having a lot of curriculum options, I can pick and choose from each one and sort of make up my own preschool day!
Listen to the 2017 Curriculum Podcast HERE and you can watch the 2017 Preschool Curriculum video below!